Brexit could lead to increase in CAO points for Irish students

Higher international fees may lead to thousands of students staying at home

Latest figures show the number of students applying to study in the UK has dropped by almost 20 per cent since the Brexit vote, down from 4,750 students last year to 3,900 this year

Latest figures show the number of students applying to study in the UK has dropped by almost 20 per cent since the Brexit vote, down from 4,750 students last year to 3,900 this year

 

Brexit could lead to increases in CAO points if thousands of Irish students who study in the UK opt to remain at home, a university president has warned.

Dublin City University president Brian MacCraith said up to 12,000 Irish students currently study in universities across the UK. However, if these students are forced to pay much higher international fees as a result of Brexit, it is likely to result in sharp increases in application numbers to Irish universities.

“If there is no increase in capacity this will further increase competition for places in Irish universities, with potential increases in CAO points in specific programmes, and displacement of some student who may otherwise have obtained entry places,” Mr MacCraith said.

Latest figures show the number of students applying to study in the UK has dropped by almost 20 per cent since the Brexit vote, down from 4,750 students last year to 3,900 this year.

This is despite guarantees from UK education authorities that Irish and EU students who commence third-level courses in the coming academic year will not face international fees of between £20,000 and £30,000 per annum.

Mr MacCraith was speaking at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education on Tuesday, which examined the impact of Brexit on the education system.

Ned Costello, of the Irish Universities Association, expressed concern at the capacity of our higher education sector to capitalise on opportunities presented by Brexit. He noted the total number of Irish students studying in the UK was equivalent to a large university or 6 per cent of our domestic student population.

Challenge

“Given the ongoing precarious financial situation faced by Irish universities, strong domestic demographic growth as well as increased demand from other EU and international students, a reversal of these flows would present a significant challenge for Irish higher education.”

Mr Costello said a 17 per cent increase in EU applications to study in Ireland this year indicated that many European students were already considering Ireland as an alternative destination to the UK. But he warned that Ireland’s ability to capitalise on potential opportunities may be limited by the lack of a sustainable funding model for Irish higher education.

Dr Graham Love of the Higher Education Authority also told the committee there was an opportunity – with the right inputs – to position Ireland as a “high-quality international hub” for education and research. This could be realised by boosting investment following a decade of austerity, as well as developing new partnerships with other EU higher education institutions.

He acknowledged Ireland had “poor visibility” globally, but said there was potential for the sector to become a talent magnet, attracting the best students, academics and researchers for the benefit of Irish society and economy.

Opportunities

This could be achieved through targeted initiatives to provide opportunities for the recruitment of international students, academic staff and professionals seeking to relocate to Ireland.

The British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, however, voiced concerns that Brexit could have major implications for collaborations between Irish academics and the UK. John McGrane, the group’s director general, said UK and Irish research institutions collaborate extensively, especially under EU research programmes. There were currently more than 900 collaborative links between Irish and UK researchers under the EU’s main funding programme for higher education, Horizon 2020.

“If the UK is unable to negotiate an associate membership of Horizon 2020 and other research programmes, Irish researchers will have to seek new partnerships within Europe, ”Mr McGrane said. “Given the close working relationship between UK and Irish researchers this could prove costly for Irish research applications.”